28 January, 2015

ABCs of Cloth Diapers: Accessories - What do you *really* need?


After discussing  reasons for cloth diaperingprefoldspocketsall-in-ones,  hybrid/all-in-two, and washing and stripping methods, I am wrapping up this beginners series with a final post on cloth diaper accessories.

As Ariel sings in the Little Mermaid, there are "gadgets and gizmos aplenty" with cloth diapering. I want to share a few of the things I use and what I think you could live with out.


Diaper Storage:

Dirty Diapers at home: 

I use a dog food bin from Target with a Kissaluvs pail liner.  We chose this because it's a thick plastic that's designed to keep odors in. It also has 2 wheels on the bottom which can be handy.

Dirty Diapers on the go or home:


I highly recommend investing in a wet bag. Wet bags are lined with PUL to keep moisture in. Some, like PlanetWise, have a water proof zipper that keeps the stink in too!  A wet/dry bag (see middle bag) has a lined "wet" second and a not lined "dry" section - I've never used it as such.

If you're mostly a homebody a small one will suffice (1-3 diapers). If you are on-the-go all day or take day trips I'd get a medium (8-12). For weekend trips I highly recommend a large (16-20) or extra large.  I have one of each size but I started with just a medium.  Wet bags can also be used for the gym, pool, beach, etc.  They go in the washer and dryer when you wash your diapers.

Some people put the handled ones on the back of the door and use that instead of a diaper pail at home.


Other on-the-go ideas for dirty diapers:

  • Ziplock bag
  • grocery bag
  • doggy poop bags
  • disposable diaper trash bags

Drying Diapers:


There are all sort of fancy cloth diaper drying clip thingy-ma-bobs. We use the Closetmaid shelving above our washer/dryer with a clothes pins.   I use our clothes drying rack to sun diapers outside.

Clean Diaper Storage:

I keep a bin like this under our end table downstairs and one on the changing table upstairs.  It has 6-8 clean diapers, stuffed and ready to go; a roll of liners; cloth wipes; spray wipe solution; and usually a package of disposable wipes.

I've also seen them lined up in dresser drawers, on old VHS storage towers, on small bookshelves, on cube-shaped shelve systems, etc.

When we travel for the weekend I store them like this but in a horizontal laundry basket.


Diaper Safe Rash Cream 

Basically you want to stay away from petroleum based products, like Vasaline or Aquafor; or any other product that might leave a residue like zinc based creams.  I typically use Honest Company's Healing Balm (not their diaper rash cream) if I need something like Aquafor.  I've also tried and loved Thirsties Booty Love ointment.  Here's a great post that I found with a ton of rash cream information and product recommendations.

Cleaning Accessories

Sprayer & Accessories

When I first got started with cloth diapers cleaning the diapers was my biggest hesitation.  The diaper sprayer convinced me all would be okay.  As I said in the washing post, exclusively breastfed babies poop is water soluble so it can just get thrown in the washer.  Once solids are introduced the poop must be flushed or thrown away.  The diaper sprayer hooks up to the toilet and works like a little shower or sink sprayer to get all the poop off the diaper.  This was a life saver when Evie was on formula. Those diapers were nasty.  The down side to sprayers is that they can run $60-70 for a brand name one.  You can get them at Home Depot for the $40 range.  They also can make a little spray-mess, for which other accessories have been created like the Spray Pal and Diaper Dawgs. In my opinion, these are over the top. Ha!  Shit happens.


Liners


About 6-8 months into my cloth diapering journey my friend Anne told me about diaper liners.  I remember the moment clearly because I almost kissed her right there mid-diaper change at playgroup.  Diaper liners are like a piece of fabric-meets-paper towel that traps the solids but allows the pee through the diaper.  Liners can be easily be thrown in the toilet or trash and make cleaning poop a breeze.  No seriously. I've probably used my sprayer a dozen times since I discovered these.
 These are my two favorite. Anne recommended the GroVia ones and they changed my life. I tried a few other brands in a pinch but kept coming back to these.  I only recently discovered ImseVimse thanks to The Natural Baby.  The GroVia are softer but the ImseVimse hold up better in the wash (yes you can wash them - but don't put them in the dryer) for a second use.  (note: I find the toddler size to be TOO big, even on my 40lb 3 year old. And I don't like that they're not on a roll)

I've also heard folks using half a Viva paper towel, or cutting strips of fleece.  Whatever works for you!

Cloth Wipes & Sprays!

Wipes

I am indifferent about cloth wipes, but for super sensitive baby bottoms, they're a must.  I have tried a few brands, like Charlie Banana (top left), Thristies (top right), bumGenius (bottom left) and homemade (bottom right).   After 3 years of use, the bumGenius are my favorite. I didn't think I'd like how thin they are, but they're much better at getting into all the folds and rolls. 
Some folks use thin wash cloths from the large retailers, or make their own out of old tshirts and fabric scraps.

Cloth wipes can also be used to dust, blow your nose, or as "family cloth" (read: cloth toilet paper).

Wipe Solutions/Sprays:


There are two different methods on using cloth wipes.  One is to make a water + cleaner solution and soak your wipes in it, until ready to use.  In my opinion this is a breading ground for gross things and a messy spill waiting to happen.

I prefer to use one of the three sprays below.  I had always used bumGenius just because it was all I knew, but I'm really liking the Kissaluvs and Thirsties.  I use cloth wipes probably 60-70% of the time and one bottle lasts me 10-12 months.
 You can always make your own out of distilled water and essential oils.  I'm sure there are awesome blog posts about this floating around the internet.

Other random things:

bumGenius makes this odor remover.  I bought it on a whim and used it once. I did not find it did anything more than a good stripping did. Don't waste your money.



I was getting frustrated with how long our hemp-cotton inserts were taking to dry in the dryer (synthetics dry quickly!).  The internet suggested trying wool dryer balls. I started with 6 and didn't really noticed much of a difference, but now that I have 12 our hemp inserts dry in one long cycle instead of one and a half.  Brand name dryer balls are pricey, but you can find some on Etsy or make your own. I would imagine we'll never recoup the energy cost savings, but knowing I don't have to baby sit the dryer is worth the cost to me!

 When I first started cloth diapering, I saw Baby Legs all over the blogging and cloth diaper community.  Everyone boasted that these made for easier diaper changes than pants, and you get to show off your adorable fluffy bum.  While I do still put them on the girls around the house, I don't let them out of the house. Every.Single.Time they wear them out, folks ask why the girls are wearing casts! haha.

BumGenius makes a series of Baby Legs that match the colors of their diapers. Check them out! Cloth diaper essential? No, but fun to have!


Thank you for hanging out and reading along!  Eventually I'll do a follow up post with information specifically on newborn diapers.  

Anything I missed? Leave a comment and we'll chat!

Don't forget to enter the give away!  Visit any of the posts in this series to enter to win. Giveaway ends tonight!


26 January, 2015

ABCs of Cloth Diapering: An Introductory Wash Routine + A Stripping Method



We have gone over the reasons for cloth diapering, prefolds, pockets, all-in-ones, and hybrid/all-in-two.  Today we're discussing a basic wash routine as well as a stripping method. (Please note: This is for all types of diapers and covers EXCEPT wool. Wool has it's own wash routine not covered in this series)

Ask anyone who cloth diapers and they'll tell you their method is the best.  Over time you'll taylor your wash routine to your schedule, style, water type, and detergent preferences.  Here is a great place to start!


Prepping New Diapers for Use:

New diapers need to be prepped.  Well, the covers don't but anything that is absorbent does, so all the inserts, prefolds, and all-in-one diapers.  PUL covers and pocket shells just need a few washes prior to use.  Why?  Because like anything manufactured you just want to get the junk off.  The diapers also get more absorbent over time.  Diapers need 6-10 washes before use.

You'll need to spend a few days before using the diapers to wash them several times. I usually wash twice and then dry (see instructions below). The next day repeat.  You're probably asking if you REALLY need to do this.  The answer is you really only need to wash them 1-2 times before you use them (just like any new clothes or towels).  Just keep in mind the diapers won't reach their maximum absorbency until you hit the 8-10 mark.

Washing Cloth Diapers:


  1. Dispose of any solids in toilet. Use sprayer if necessary.
  2. Store dirty diapers in a diaper pail or wet bag until ready to wash, ideally every 2-3 days.
  3. Do a cold or tap water rinse. (I do a second rinse if they've been sitting for 2+ days)
  4. Do a HOT water wash with manufacturers recommended amount of detergent for your washer
  5. Do an extra rinse.
  6. Line dry or machine dry on medium until dry.

Notes: 

  • Machine drying is much faster but can shorten the life if your diapers. I line dry in good weather and machine dry on humid and rainy days.
  • While using a detergent specifically made for cloth diapers is ideal, you can use any detergent without dye, bleach, or fabric softeners. These breakdown the fabrics and can cause repelling. 
  • Water that is very hard or very soft may require extra attention and specific detergents. 
  • Check your machine at the end of the second rinse. If you still see suds, do another rinse and reduce the amount of detergent next time.
  • If you have an HE machine you may need to trick your washer into adding more water by setting it to "comforter/pillows" or by adding a wet towel (this makes your washer think there are more clothes in it and therefore adds more water)

Detergents:


I only have experience with a few:

  • For us, Tiny Bubbles by GroVia is the BEST regular detergent.  
  • I also use straight up plain Tide Powder in a pinch or if the diapers have sat for 4+ days (like on vacation).
  • I've tried Nellie's Soap, bumGenius and RubyMoon and I do not care for any of them. And in my opinion Ruby Moon has terrible scents. 
  • We've found SoapNuts do not get a good enough wash and do not recommend them.
  • Seriously, there are so many options play around with what works with your baby's chemistry, your washer, and your water.




Stripping Cloth Diapers:

Cloth diapers build up a little stink and residue over time. You'll know it's time to strip your diapers when you notice they stink when they're dry, or if you find you're getting lots of leaks.  You'll want to strip diapers about every 3 months.  Covers don't really need to be stripped. I do throw my pocket shells in, and of course all the inserts and all-in-ones.

  1. Start with clean diapers (follow above).  They do not need to be dry, just clean.
  2. Set your washer to the hottest water setting (you may want to turn up your water heater, just remember to turn it back down) and do a full HOT water wash without detergent.
  3. Run several hot wash loads until your water no longer has soap bubbles in the washer (this will likely be 2-3 washes, maybe more for HE machines).  Don't confuse agitation bubbles with soap bubbles. Agitation bubbles dissipate quickly.
  4. Throw everything in the dryer or line dry!
  5. Everything should smell fresh.  If not, you may need another round or to try some other methods with vinegar, OxyClean, blue Dawn, or bleach. This is all case-by-case.

Have questions?  Need help trouble shooting?  Send me an email (elizabeth {at} thebuerglers {dot} com) or message me through The Natural Baby- North Atlanta on Facebook


Only TWO DAYS left to enter our giveaway!

23 January, 2015

ABCs of Cloth Diapering: How About Those Hybrids (or All-in-twos)


Today we're wrapping up the styles of cloth diapers by discussing hybrids, also known as All-in-twos (AI2). As soon as I met Maria I knew she'd be the person to ask to help me with this post.  She is the most enthusiastic GroVia hybrid fan I've ever met!



Maria W. Valles is mom to Anna Carolina (almost 6 months) with an amazingly tolerant husband and 2 goofy dog-babies. You can find her blogging about the undersides of cars, not babies, over at http://www.motorcarsintl.com/blog/

When I was miserably sick during my first trimester of pregnancy, I spent a LOT of time laying in bed. I was either binge watching Netflix, or researching the heck out of all things pregnancy and baby. I had been a nanny for 10 years, and in all my time with babies and kids, I had developed some pretty clear ideas of  things I wanted to do/not do when I had my own child. 

Cloth diapering, however, had not crossed my radar. I knew that I did not want our family to use regular disposable diapers, though. I just really didn't like the idea of how long diapers sit in a landfill. When I was in our local baby store for the first time, I asked if they carried any cloth diapers. Jackpot- they did and were VERY knowledgeable about all things cloth! The very first brand of cloth diaper I was introduced to was GroVia, and I was sold. I really liked the idea of the hybrid (AI2) system with separate shells and snap in soaker pads. The ability to reuse the shell for multiple changes appealed to me, because then I wouldn't have to have as many. During the rest of my pregnancy, I continued to learn as much about cloth diapering as I could. Now, almost 6 months in, GroVia is still the bulk of my stash. It has become a brand I truly trust for the quality of their products, their choices of materials, and their commitment to educating their consumers.



What is an AI2/Hybrid?

While GroVia is my favorite, there are several companies that make a "hybrid" or "all-in-two" style of diaper. The principle is essentially the same: an outer, waterproof shell or cover paired with an inner absorbent pad (insert). As long as the cover isn't soiled, you can reuse it through several changes. As I said before, this is what drew me to hybrids in the first place.  Here are some of the pros and cons I have discovered in my own personal use-



Why Hybrids?


Pro- Fewer total diapers. I can get thru the average day with 2 covers and 7 or so inserts (this is just daytime changes). Depending on how frequently you want to wash diapers, hybrids could work well as a budget friendly option.

Pro- All those inserts dirty? Anything can be a diaper in a pinch! As long as you have a waterproof cover, you can lay just about anything in there (dishtowels and even old t-shirts). OR, you can switch it up between brands. Say you really like the fit of one type of cover, but want to try a different material for the inside. Experiment away!


Challenges of Hybrids?


Con- This sort of ties into the pro above: different sized snaps. Some brands of hybrid have corresponding snaps on the inside of the cover and the underside of the insert that snap together so that the insert stays in place within the cover (GroVia is one of these). The size of these snaps is not universal across brands. So while you can mix covers and inserts, they might not always snap together. This is more of a minor annoyance than an actual issue.

Con- Getting the right fit can be a little tricky at first. I read somewhere that cloth diapers are more "fiddle-y" than disposables. This is true, and hybrids can sometimes require more fiddling with than all-in-ones. Making sure that no bits of insert are sticking out, checking to make sure things line up, etc. Like anything, once you have your routine and have found what works for you, it's really no big deal.

Overall, hybrid cloth has made cloth diapering easy to get into for me. In the beginning, I think this style of diaper gave me the confidence to think, "ok, I can do this". Now I am always interested in trying different ways of diapering my sweet little one! Knowing that I have a solid "base" to fall back on allows me to experiment.

Thanks, Maria!



Favorite Hybrid Systems:



GroVia - 

GroVia has a trim shape and caps out around 30 pounds (most diapers go to 35ish).  The snaps help hold the soakers in place.  There are 3 different types of soakers (see chart) for each family's needs/preferences and a disposable option that is biodegradable and compostable.. Each of the soakers are trim and easy to use. The covers are popular with folks who use prefolds, too! The biggest downside I hear is the mesh lining isn't as easy to wipe out as a plain PUL cover.

Price: $16.95 cover/shell; prices for soakers above, disposable soakers are $19.99 for 50 or $7.99 for 20.
Available at The Natural Baby: Yes! 

Flip (part of the bumGenius family) -

left to right / top to bottom : 
newborn insert, onesize fold down insert, organic day insert, organic overnight insert

below includes the disposable insert

I like this system because it has the quick drying microfiber options as well as the organic cotton options. The microfiber soakers are similar to the ones in a bumGenius pocket, but have a seude cloth top so they can touch the baby's skin. These are layerable.  The organic inserts are similar to a flat and prefold. I usually just do a pad or trifold and lay them in the covers. The Flip covers are among the most generously sized PUL type covers.  I use the overnight cotton inserts during the day for my 3 year old. Any of these FLIP inserts can be stuffed into a pocket, too. And because the covers are so generously sized they'll fit over any type of flat, prefold or fitted.


Price: 
  • Covers: $14.95 for solids, $16.95 for prints
  • Newborn: 6 for $14.95
  • Onesize: 3 for $$14.95
  • Organic daytime: 3 for $21.95
  • Organic nighttime: 2 for $24.95
  • Disposable: 18 for $7.95
Available at The Natural Baby: Yes!


Don't forget to enter the giveaway --- and remember, The Natural Baby sells more than just cloth diapers!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

22 January, 2015

ABCs of Cloth Diapering: The Almighty All-In-One




We've talked about reasons to cloth diaper,  prefolds and covers, and pockets. Today Meaghan is discussing the awesomeness that is the All-in-one. Keep in mind that while AIOs are the most expensive option, they're the easiest to wash, store, and leave for the babysitter!


Meagan Himmerich is a mother to a wonderful little girl and wife to Dustin. She is new to Atlanta and started to cloth diaper when her daughter was born last year in early 2014. She enjoys singing for church, playing on the playground with her daughter, and watching her family grow more together in our new home town.

We are cloth diaper lovers in our household. We would not have it any other way for our daughter. We came to use cloth diapers because it was cheaper over the course of 2-3 years than using disposables and we plan on having more children so this cost savings can add up. With a tight budget we started out with just pre-folds and covers. We made it through the first three months with this method, but as our daughter grew we transitioned over to pre-folds, fitteds, and AIO (All In Ones). Now our daughter is in AIO for daytime diapers and fitteds for our nighttime diapers.

What is AIO? AIO stands for “All in One” meaning the cloth and cover is all stitched into one diaper. It may be synthetic or natural fiber. Some have flaps such as Bumgenius Freetimes or Tots Bots Easy Fit. Some are connected from top to bottom or side to side such as the Bumgenius Elemental or Simplex One Size. AIO are extremely absorbent and many parents use them for daytime and nighttime use. It is easy to add an insert if more absorbency is necessary. AIO are also the most friendly daycare or grandparent diaper.

There are numerous pro’s for AIO cloth diapers.


  • They are super easy for anyone to put on because they maintain the look of a disposable. 
  •  Great for the squirmy baby who hates laying down to be changed because they can be done while the child is standing. (insert our precious daughter) 
  •  Parents do not have to stuff them with inserts that barely fit in the pocket hole because they come out of the washer the same way they went into the washer. (I am not a pocket diaper woman but I know friends who are loyal to pocket diapers.) 
  • No need for a a cover or a “Snappi” when you have an AIO. 

Here are some of the cons that I have heard for AIO’s over the year. (I will try not to insert my rebuttals here)


  • They take forever to dry. 
  • They are not absorbent enough. 
  • Cloth diapering is stinky. 
  • “What do you do with the POOP?” 

Here are the brands I use for our daughter. Keep in mind that our daughter has sensitive skin and can only use natural material. 



Brand Recommendations from Meaghan:

This is our top pick as our daughter has grown. This diaper is perfect for her sensitive skin and I add a Thirsties hemp insert on occasion to give her more absorbency (super easy to insert). This diaper fits best around 12 to 15 to toddler years, in my opinion. 
Price: $26.95 for prints, $24.95 for solids
Available at The Natural Baby: Yes




Tots Bots Easy Fit  (Birthday cake diaper)–

 These diapers are great because they have a bamboo outer layer and they have an extra tongue that can be inserted into the top for additional absorbency. When our daughter was little these fit super well, but they do not have a high rise on them so she is quickly out growing them.

Price: $26.95 for prints, $27.95 for limited editions, $24.95 for solids
Available at The Natural Baby: No. These are a UK diaper and can be tricky to find in stock regularly in the US



Elizabeth jumping in here - Moraki -

Moraki is an American made diaper that is very similar to TotsBots (which I love!) but has natural fibers. Morakis are great because they're designed to go in the dryer and have a hip snap. Unfortunately they're one of the most expensive diapers out there!

Price: $35.00 for limited editions and special collections, $27.00 for solids
Available at The Natural Baby:  Hopefully this year! The company is still small and we're on the list to be a retailer.




This diaper was initially our favorite when our daughter was three months to about six months. It is super slim fitting and easy to crawl in for a new explorer, but the super slim diaper has since become a little too slim and not a high enough rise for our daughter. We still use them on a regular basis but it is more of a “what’s still clean” diaper. 

Elizabeth again - Bottom Bumpers have been a favorite for us because Maggie is super skinny. These are the best fitting AIO diapers for her, so far!

Price: $19.95 for sized (small, medium, large), $23.95 for one sized, custom embroidered BottomBumpers range from $25-30
Available at The Natural Baby:  Yes, our popular sizes are smalls (as a newborn diaper) and the One Size



Ecoables – 


These are great on a budget! I would recommend them from four months on; and be prepared to soak these diapers. They are great diapers but love ammonia as well; so they will need a diligent mother who can put them in the sun at least once every few weeks. We love the woman’s cute designs on these diapers. And our daughter loves the feel of them and gets excited when we put them on. They are a trim yet absorbent diapers. 

Price: $12.95
Available at The Natural Baby: No (I had never even heard of them until Meaghan's post!)


Here are the brands that I do not use but I used to live near a cloth diaper store and was friends with lots of mommy’s who cloth diapered. 


Many mothers will spend their entire cloth diaper allowance on these diapers because the “free” up “time”. These diapers are super absorbent with a two microfiber flaps that lay away from the baby’s skin. In addition, synthetic material dries super quickly and this is what most moms love about them. Our daughter has trouble with polyester and microfiber so we cannot use them, but we would if we could. 

Price: $19.95 for solids; $21.95 for prints
Available at The Natural Baby: Yes




The last of the AIO’s I really want to own. These are a natural fiber diaper with an opening at the top and bottom; great for adding a hemp insert. Simplex has the highest rise of an AIO and is a little bit slimmer than the Bumgenius line of diapers. Natural fiber moms tend to lean towards these and BG Elementals. 

Since neither Meaghan nor I have actually used this diaper I polled Twitter. 



Price: $28.95
Available at The Natural Baby: Not yet. We're hoping to add these to our line up this year, too! (And I can't wait to try one!)


Two more Honorable Mentions from Elizabeth:


GroVia One Size All In One -

This is similar to BottomBumpers and is also made with organic cotton. It has snap in booster too.  After trying this diaper on my chunky monkey and skinny minnie, I'm not sure who this diaper is supposed to fit. It's TOO trim that I don't find it absorbent enough to leave the house with but it fits great under jeans!

Price: $24.95 for prints and solids
Available at The Natural Baby:  Yes




 Thirsties One Size All-in-One -

Thirsities redid their AIO line from a size 1 & 2 to a One Size this year. This new diaper is polyester so it dries super fast and is very absorbent. It's both trim and generous fitting. If your baby can handle synthetics this is a great option that will last you a long time.

Price: $19.95 for prints and solids
Available at The Natural Baby: Yes, including the new Ocean Prints



Recap:

Flap style from left to right:
GroVia (organic cotton), Bottom Bumpers (organic cotton), bumGenius Free Time (microfiber & suede cloth, Thristies (polyester)

Tongue style from left to right:
Moraki (organic cotton), Tots Bots (polyester)

Completely attached:
bumGenius Elemental (organic cotton)



Meaghan Recommends:

Something that looks great online may not be so great on your child. I recommend buying a number of different kinds (one of each) and spending a few weeks with them before adding more of one brand to the cloth diaper drawer. 

Check out our $10, 3-week diaper trial through The Natural Baby

Have you entered our giveaway?


a Rafflecopter giveaway